Gloucestershire officially appoints new Chief Constable
THE county's next Chief Constable was officially given the position today after facing a grilling about her suitability for the top job in Gloucestershire.
The Police and Crime Panel met at Shire Hall to decide whether or not to endorse Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl's preferred candidate, Suzette Davenport.
And after a lengthy question and answer session the panel decided to approve the decision – despite 'serious concerns' about the appointment process.
Discussions were dominated by questions surrounding the on-going investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into allegations of police misconduct which Ms Davenport is currently subject to.
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Ms Davenport is one of nine officers at the centre of an IPCC inquiry into events leading up to a 2008 murder trial.
She told the panel: "Openness and transparency is absolutely critical and crucial to the public. It is an historic investigation from my time in Staffordshire some years ago.
"The judge quite rightly has asked some questions because he has been unhappy about what has been in court and that is quite right and proper so that people like me have the opportunity to show that they have not done anything wrong.
"I am absolutely confident when we come to the end of the investigation I will have been found not to have misconducted myself in any way, shape or form."
Mr Surl said he had been aware of the investigation when he selected her as his favourite candidate.
He told the panel: "I was aware of it because it was in the media. If you googled any candidate you will find the information because it is in the public domain. I have been in contact with the IPCC and asked if there was anything that would help with this process and they came back with nothing.
"I have done all I can. In this country people are innocent until proven guilty and that applies not only to a chief constable but also to everybody subject to the criminal justice system."
He added that Ms Davenport had given him a "true and honest assurance, an unequivocal assurance," that the investigation will "exonerate her".
Mr Surl went on to state the IPCC had "refused" to disclose the information he had requested and that Ms Davenport had disclosed the investigation "at the earliest possible opportunity".
He told the panel of councillors and independent members: "I have no more information about the investigation than you do. It has all been declined. I found that strange, that I am not allowed that information, but I am not and that is the reality."
He added that the interview panel found her to be the best candidate and the best person to take the constabulary forward.
"If there is a finding of guilt I will deal with it but I am not going to deal with it before I have the facts," he said.
Speaking after the decision was made the chairman of the panel, Councillor Brian Calway, said: "The Police and Crime Panel accept the recommendation of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the appointment of Suzette Davenport as Gloucestershire's Chief Constable, subject to her categorical assurances regarding the IPCC investigation.
"However, the Police and Crime Panel must record our serious concerns over the appointment process undertaken by the Commissioner's office.
"We believe that the issue of the IPCC investigation was not properly considered. Specifically, interview panel members did not have sufficient information to balance the candidate's performance against the risks to Gloucestershire Constabulary."